OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate the efficacy of expandable metal stents for colonic decompression in patients presenting with acute malignant obstruction and to describe the associated radiographic findings. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Using both fluoroscopic and endoscopic guidance, we placed expandable metal stents within the colons of 13 patients presenting with acute malignant obstruction. Stents were placed in four patients to permit a standard bowel cleansing before surgical resection with primary anastomosis. In the other nine patients, stents were placed for palliation of nonresectable tumors, obviating colostomy. Outcomes and complications were analyzed. The radiologic aspects of procedural planning, stent placement, assessment after placement, and detection of complications were evaluated. RESULTS. Of the four surgical candidates who were successfully resected with primary anastomosis, two received incomplete bowel cleansing because of stent migration with recurrent obstruction. Eight of the nine patients when had stents placed for palliation of nonresectable tumors had relief of acute obstruction. Complications in this group included two perforations, one that required immediate colostomy and one that was self-limited and conservatively treated. Two other patients of the eight developed early stent obstruction, requiring colostomy in one. The other patient who has a stent placed for palliation of a nonresectable tumor declined further treatment, contrast-enhanced enema examination proved useful in assessing the suitability of lesions for stent decompression, directing the choice of stent type and the most appropriate position for the patient during the stent placement. Immediately after stent placement, plain abdominal radiographs and water-soluble contrast enema examinations helped us verify stent position and patency. CONCLUSION. These results suggest that placement of expandable metal stents in patients presenting with acute, malignant colonic obstruction is a viable alternative to colostomy and can potentially decrease morbidity and mortality. Radiologic assessment before, during, and after stent placement plays an integral role in the management of patients undergoing stent decompression of the colon.